Biographical / Historical
Jules Olitski (1922-2007) was a painter, sculptor, and educator in New York, New York, who established himself as one of the leaders of the abstract expressionist movement in the United States during the 1950s-1960s.
Olitski was born in the Ukraine, and moved to New York in 1923 after his father, a commissar, was executed. By 1935, Olitski had developed an interest in art and was awarded a scholarship at the Pratt Institute where he began taking classes in 1939. Soon after he attended the National Academy of Design until 1942 when he enlisted in the United States Army.
In 1949 Olitski studied sculpture with Ossip Zadkine in the Zadkine School of Sculpture in France, and the next year attended the Academia de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris. He then moved back to the United States for his higher education, earning a master's degree from New York University. Olitski became an associate professor of art at the State University of New York, New Paltz in 1954. He held several more teaching positions throughout the 1950s and 1960s in New York and Vermont.
From the 1970s-2000s Olitski received honorary degrees from Keen State College, Hartford Art School, and Southern New Hampshire University, and held solo shows at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Knoedler Contemporary Art in New York, La Musee de Valence in France, and the Drabinsky Friedland Gallery in Toronto. He also participated in several major group exhibitions around the world including American Drawings, 1964 (1964) at the Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940-1970 (1970) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Green Mountain Boys - Caro, Feeley, Noland and Olitski at Bennington in the 1960's (1998), and exhibited elsewhere in Vermont and New York, and many other locations.